I’ve spent such a long time being the happy, upbeat one. Being the ear for other people and listening to their struggles, but never sharing any in return – never thinking I had any to share. I’ve spent so long being optimistic and believing that, no matter what, I can’t complain because my biggest problems pale in comparison to some people in world. I’ve spent so long answering ‘good, fine’ to the question ‘how are you?’ that I don’t know if I can answer it any differently. But things are not always fine. When I can’t even pinpoint what’s wrong, when it might not even be anything worth pinpointing, except to know that there are tears rolling down my face and this unrelenting feeling that something has to change, I know that in that moment everything is not fine. And who knew, that out of all the words in the English language, those two would be the hardest to say out loud.
We complain about the most trivial things in life. We know we do. We are so aware of this that we comment about it after complaining; “that’s a first world problem”. This term gets thrown around after moaning that the wifi on our phone isn’t working, or that there are no parking spots at the shops at that day.
These things are not worth complaining about. They are not real problems. Real problems are often the things that catch you off guard, that come around the corner so fast you never saw it coming, until it hits you so hard it completely changes the way your life used to be. They are the things that make you freeze, that turn you mute because there just aren’t words to describe how unbelievable they are.
Most of us can’t fathom real problems. I fall into this category. I can’t imagine what it’s like to go without food for even a week. I can’t comprehend the strength it takes to have a family member taken from you in the most horrific way and be able to continue on with life. I can barely think about the fact that there are people, children, the world over being kidnapped, bought, sold and traded into the most terrible forms of slavery.
I know this is depressing to think about it. For me, it is so far from my life that all these things are surely make believe. They are just what we see on television, they are the story line to a sad movie. They are not real life. They are not my life. But they are the life of others. So whenever you think your world is falling apart, try to remember there are hundreds of people who would trade with you in a heartbeat. I know that I live the most amazing, lucky, spoilt life. So many of us do. Sometimes you need to make a conscious effort to remember this. Other times you hear stories that hit home so hard it makes it impossible not to be grateful for what you have. Don’t let the latter be the only time you appreciate life.